Biological, Soft Matter, Nonlinear, and Statistical Physics

Biological Physics

Biological physics is by definition an interdisciplinary science where ideas and techniques from physics are utilized to understand biological systems and phenomena. Biological materials are classed as soft materials and there is a natural synergy between these disciplines. The unique academic structure at UC Merced is especially conducive to research in biophysics with collaborations between faculty across physics, chemistry, biology, applied math and bioengineering disciplines. The biophysics group at UC Merced has a wide variety of research interests including

Soft Matter Physics

Soft matter science (or soft condensed matter) is the study of materials that are neither crystalline solids, nor simple liquids — they are somewhere in between. This interesting state of matter can take many forms and can be seen everywhere in the world around us. Some everyday examples of soft matter include, soaps, paints, gels, plastics, liquid crystals and most of your own body and the food you eat. At UC Merced, we are building a group of faculty interested in problems related to soft materials, from new liquid crystal composite materials, to granular media and cell membranes. 

Focus areas include:

Nonlinear and Statistical Physics

Most processes encountered in nature are inherently nonlinear, meaning that nonlinear dynamics finds applications across a wide range of disciplines from mathematics and physics to chemistry, biology, and engineering.  As such, UC Merced Physics faculty from various subfields share a common bond with their interest in nonlinear phenomena and statistical physics. 

Focus areas include:

  • chaotic dynamics in atomic systems (Mitchell),
  • nonlinear optics in semiconductor nanostructures (Scheibner) and fiber devices (Sharping),
  • thermal transport in DNA (Chien),
  • collective phenomena in swarming and foraging (Gopinathan),
  • anomalous transport in complex environments (Gopinathan),
  • fundamental studies of topological dynamics (Mitchell).


Contact Us

Physics Department Chair
Ajay Gopinathan, Professor
Physics Graduate Group Chair
Sayantani Ghosh, Professor
Physics Undergraduate Lead
Carrie Menke, Associate Teaching Professor
Physics Address
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
Shipping Address
University of California, Merced
ATTN: (Name of recipient)
School of Natural Sciences
Facilities Services Building A
5200 N. Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343

Centers and Institutes

CCBM: Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines

MACES: Merced nAnomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing

HSRI: Health Sciences Research Institute

UC Solar: UC Advanced Solar Technologies Institute


University of California, Merced
The first new American research
university in the 21st century, with a
mission of research, teaching and service.
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
T: (209) 228-4400
University of California


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